Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Writing - Noise - Magic

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I interviewed my husband Mitch, aka The Doctor, for the second interview in this summer series. Mitch has had wonderfully diverse music experiences from living in several countries and playing in many genres. Mitch has always been interested in pushing his band Fascist Insect into all kinds of strange eclectic places, especially the farthest regions of grind and abstract electronics, as well as all kinds of in-between cut-ups/mash-ups. He’s also put out many beautiful releases over the years, including annual four-way splits. He used to release under the name Black Maggot Noise Productions but has lately preferred to simply describe his releases as self-released. When he chooses to book shows or fests, he always puts thought into booking diverse bands, as he is a strong believer in cross-fertilization. He puts energy into every aspect of whatever project he’s working on, including developing a unique style of flier art. 

MRR: Hi, my name is Mitch Ribis, 36 years old from Cleveland, Ohio. I go by the name The Dr. in Fascist Insect. We formed in 2007 as a Hardcore/Metal outfit but veer wildly between anything we consider heavy. Right now we (Fascist Insect--which is also Ammo Killson on vox and drums) are working on super-short/bursty HC/thrash/Doom songs with myself on vox and guitar.

ARH: When and how did you get into performing? Feel free to discuss any influences and early experiences.
MRR: I come from a family of performers – my first public musical performance was with my then-band Slum Scum in Shah Alam, Malaysia when I was 18. There was another band on the bill that night called Happy Nightmare whom I sat in with on vox for covers of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Creeping Death" at the end of the show. Other unusual performances? Lessee...opening for Japanese grind legends Damage Digital with my old band Enslaved Chaos in Kuala Lumpur in 1997, winning a litre of vodka at an open mic contest in Britain in 2001 (doing "Looking Out My Back Door" and similarly terrible), doing Anthrax's version of "Got the Time" at karaoke in Budapest in 2005, and doing "Rocket Man" at our DFAC (cafeteria) during lunchtime karaoke in Iraq in 2008. General experience? Practice as much as possible for even the seemingly most insignificant performance...

ARH: Since you’ve started performing, have you noticed repeating cycles in terms of style and energy of experimental music? How would you describe the current zeitgeist?
MRR: Before, you could get several different genres...let me revise: before people (well fuckit "I") didn't know there were even different genres of Noise. Now there are more shows but each show is a different subgenre of Noise/Experimental...Noise bands are migrating to different scenes/genres like Doom and Thrash. There's more crossover than ever. It's like jazz-fusion all over again but with heavy post-Industrial era music.
ARH: What qualities excite you in performances of others? What takes you by surprise and keeps your interest in experimental music? 

MRR: Energy and originality for sure. I guess what grabs my attention the most is originality, heaviness, and emotional response to the jams being played. I'm not super-into comedy or irony.

ARH: How does language factor in your creative process? Does your inspiration often begin with words or sounds – how do these interact? (Mitch is fluent in Indonesian/Malay and can read and write Arabic)

MRR: I think that different languages lend themselves to different melody, tonality, and scales, and languages and their syllables are like different notes on different scales. If you have four syllables you basically have four words, which means, you have the complete lyrics to a song. “Tetsuo” (off of the split with Generichrist), had words in Malay, Japanese, and English. Different syllables and words in different languages have interesting possibilities for rhythm and timing as well. If possible I will definitely try to start a lyrical composition with a cool vocal hook or song title and then I reverse-engineer it, putting lyrics, and whatever content in. Saying this—this process can go in any number of orders, as well. But if you have a good basic title and chorus/hook, 85% of your songwriting is done in my own personal experience.

ARH: Do you feel performing is a spiritual act and/or ritual? If so, how does that work – how do you use ritual awareness in your work? If not, how would you describe the performing process in terms of mental, physical and emotional transformation?

MRR: There is definitely some rituals I like to do beforehand and it does put you in a different state of mind that is a state of focus and release at the same time. It's almost as if you are have a dialogue with both your self (or selves) and a dialogue the audience simultaneously. I'm screaming into a mic, so I'm highly oxygenated and there is definitely an adrenaline rush in addition to the mental/emotional reaction to hear the live music.

ARH: What do you think the future holds for you as an individual artist and experimental music generally? What is the relationship between local and global experimental music now?

MRR:  Not sure but I hope to continue to write, perform, and record with Fascist Insect. For Experimental music in general? Hard to say. I like to believe that if the majors wanted to get hold of it (Experimental and Noise) and popularize it to the general public at large and sell it to them I think they would have by now, but Experimental music is still sonically unpalatable to a lot of people, to say the least. The farthest the majors will go (for now) is Skrillex but Wolf Eyes being on Sub Pop (and to another extent Merzbow being on Relapse) was an interesting study in the parameters of the general public's acceptance of Experimental, particularly Noise and it didn't take off the way some other stuff on Sub Pop did. There's still widespread hostility and belligerence to Noise. It's still on the fringes. But there are further experiments by the majors (no pun intended) in fielding softer and softer quirky bands so who knows how that will go? I think Experimental and Noise will continue to get bigger and fragment again and again but remain underground for the most part. And Crossover? Oh yeah.

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